When it comes to natural beauty, we tend to stick to old wives’ tales and scientifically unsubstantiated claims of what works better.
However, picking plant-based, unrefined ingredients based on hearsay is a dangerous thing, because without being synthesised for use on the skin in a lab, they can be harmful. Case in point: lemon juice, a common skin irritant which many believe lightens scars, but actually chemically burns skin!
Plus, many of these ingredients are great as food, but useless when applied topically. So, adding them to beauty products and using it on your skin is quite futile. Using any skincare product containing these items is a waste of money.
That’s why we have listed some relatively harmless, non-irritating ‘organic’ ingredients which are found in nature, and can actually improve skin when applied topically.
1. Shea Butter
Unlike many other nourishing lipids naturally found, Shea Butter is not just softening but has healing properties. While other oils and butters disappear from the skin without doing much except making it greasy, Shea really softens rough skin and soothes cracks. Look for it in hair conditioners, lip balms, foot and hand creams, and body moisturisers.
2. Acai Berry
The primary function of this Brazilian berry is as an antioxidant. It repairs damaged skin with its anti-inflammatory, skin-rejuvenating properties, and heals dryness with the fatty acids it contains. Naturally, this makes it a great component of anti-skin ageing products, so look for it in skin-replenishing night creams.
3. Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica)
Healing and anti-inflammatory, Gotu Kola is a kind of green leafy plant which helps calm irritated skin. An Ayurvedic herb often powdered and made into pills, this is also included in cult-favourite skincare products like the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Repairing Balm and Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream, which are both godsends for inflamed skin. If you have sensitive skin which is damaged, look for this ingredient to repair your skin in creams, balms and lotions.
4. Green Tea
We have all heard of how drinking green tea helps deliver antioxidants to the skin and its catechins battle skin-ageing. However, few people know that green tea is very effective when applied topically, as well. If your skin is dull due to sun damage, even manually exfoliating with dried green tea leaves from a used tea bag helps brighten skin.
Soy is a controversial food item due to the hormonal imbalance it can lead to. However, when applied topically, it moisturises skin and due to a brightening component called genistein, helps brighten skin. That’s why it is great in any skin product which is aimed at giving skin a glow. The Fresh Soy Cleanser is a favourite among celebrities and bloggers for a good reason!
6. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is one of those few ‘safe’ ingredients most people can use without worrying about reactions. Primarily a hydrating agent, this solves a number of skin problems—from dryness and flaking to redness caused by acne—by just quenching deprived skin with its high water content, thereby balancing it. This is why it is a great addition to almost any skin or hair care products. However, Aloe Vera gels are often pumped with artificial fragrance and colour, so watch out for that!